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Ireland Rue Horrible Opening 20 Minutes In Defeat To Baby Blacks

ireland new zealand u20

New Zealand U20 – 40

Ireland U20 – 17

Ireland rounded off their 2019 World Rugby U20 Championships with defeat to New Zealand in their seventh-place playoff encounter after a horrible opening 20 minutes that saw Noel McNamara’s side give the Baby Blacks a four-try lead.

Ireland showed great heart to battle back and make a game of it midway through the second half but it was New Zealand who turned the screw in the final quarter to run out convincing winners.

It was the All Blacks who started the brighter of the two sides and their dominance eventually told when Etene Nanai-Seturo scored following a smart kick from scrum-half, Taufa Funaki. Revis Reihana converted to put the Baby Blacks 7-0 up after six minutes.

It went from bad to worse just a few moments later when a mix-up at the Irish breakdown gifted front-rower, Oliver Norris, with the chance to pick up the ball and run 25 minutes uncontested over the line for New Zealand’s second try in the opening 10 minutes before Reihana converted again to leave Noel McNamara’s side with a mountain to climb.

It didn’t get much better for the young Irish side as Nani-Seturo went over in the corner for his second try after 15 minutes to really stamp the Baby Blacks authority on this contest.

Ireland battled hard but New Zealand capped off an utterly dominant opening 20 minutes with their fourth try of the match through winger, Lotima Fainga’anuku, who crashed over the line following upwards of ten phases of play from the Baby Blacks. Reihana converted his third from four attempts to leave New Zealand 26-0 ahead midway through the first half.

Ireland finally hit a purple patch as the final few minutes of the half ticked down and following a sustained period of pressure in the Baby Blacks 22 that saw New Zealand concede multiple penalties, Josh Wycherly, finally crashed over for Ireland’s first try of the game to leave the score 26-5 at half-time.

ireland new zealand u20

Ireland rallied in the second half, showing tremendous heart to claw their way back into the game. First, it was Dylan Tierney-Martin who went over three minutes into the half before Jake Flannery converted to bring Ireland to 12 points.

As the game entered the final half an hour, Ireland threw a huge spanner into the works following a tantalising try from lock, Ryan Baird, after a beautiful Irish move.

Baird was set free along the touchline and made huge yards before it looked as though he had been bottled up but the Leinster prospect showed great vision to pass the ball back to Craig Casey who took to the line before being tackled. Both Casey and Baird were switched on though as the scrum-half popped it up to the big second-rower who went over to make it a nine-point game heading down the home stretch.

However, the Irish comeback was halted in the final 15 minutes as substitute, Tamaiti Williams went over for New Zealand’s fifth try of the game to knock the wind out of Ireland’s sails.

Hooker, Shilo Klein, soon went over for the Baby Blacks’ sixth try of the match before Reihana converted his fifth conversion from six attempts to leave the final score at New Zealand 40 Ireland 17.

Author: Michael Corry

Sports Journalist born in Armagh, based in Dublin. Interested in feature writing and listening to unique, engaging stories. Up for the craic too. Email: Twitter: @MickCorryPA Instagram: @Corry_10

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